Two OMIS teachers who are pursuing National Board Certification came up with the idea for the students to develop digital portfolios to use in conjunction with their student-led conferences. Those teachers are fifth-grade teachers Michelle Tindal and Aubrey Huynh.
Students and parents from Tindal’s and Huynh’s fifth-grade classrooms were the first to try out the new digital portfolio format, spreading out at tables throughout the school’s cafeteria with Google Chromebooks for the student’s to present their work on February 21.
“Because student-led conferences are a part of our county school improvement plan, Mrs. Huynh and I wanted to find a way to integrate technology and student engagement in this process,” said Tindal. “The creation of the digital portfolios was truly a student-driven experience from beginning to end. As teachers, we equipped them with the knowledge of how to set up the portfolio and guidance on what work samples would be appropriate to include, but the creation was all their own. The outcome was a product that engaged students in becoming leaders of their own learning.”
Students developed their digital portfolios using Google Sites to create websites which included links to their work. The links included an introduction page, mastered and non-mastered learning targets in various subjects, favorite things studied, and goals. Parents observed as students showed off their technical skills in navigating their digital portfolio website, as well as their leadership skills in presenting the information being shared on the screen.
“I was impressed with her confidence,” said Kristy Arroyo, mother of Keira Vinales, after hearing her daughter present her information.
Parents who were not able to attend the group student-led conference due to work conflicts or prior commitments will have the opportunity to have their child share the information with them at home since the digital portfolios can be accessed online. Those students also had the opportunity share their information with other adults, such as other teachers and district leaders who were in attendance, as a practice-run for when they present it to their parents at home.
Tindal said students from both classes worked diligently to create their digital portfolios and were so eager to share with their parents and other educators. Derrick Reeves, a student in her class, said they worked for months to learn how to develop the digital portfolios and add the content to them.
“We worked really hard,” Reeves said. “It took us about two months to do it, but it was a lot of fun.”
Huynh said she and Tindal were very happy with the digital portfolios the students created, as well as their self-awareness and maturity when presenting to their parents.
“This project was completely student-driven, and I believe our kids truly benefited from this opportunity,” said Huynh. “The feedback we received from parents and students was both positive and constructive. Parents have stated that the conferences were engaging and informative, and that they enjoyed the open communication with their child about their academic, behavioral, and social goals. Students expressed interest in continuing to build their portfolios in years to come and felt like student-led conferences gave them a valuable opportunity to reflect and set goals for the future.
The response from parents was overwhelmingly positive on the surveys they provided after the conferences. Below is a sample of what parents had to say:
- “I very much enjoyed this and appreciate the communication from my son and the school. Thank you very much!”
- “I enjoyed it and I like how she knows and understands her strengths and how to work on her weaknesses.”
- “I am so glad I got to be a part of this experience and thankful that you are encouraging my daughter to take responsibility for her work at school.”
- “Love it, builds confidence in the student presenting, speaking, talking about themselves, and creating awareness.”
- “Awesome job! Great way to help the student be involved and self-driven with their educational goals.”
Click here to see more photos of this event: https://tinyurl.com/yc49tjjr